“A great man shows his greatness by the way he treats little men.” – Thomas Carlyle
In a book written by James E. Amos, who was the valet for US President Theodore Roosevelt, it revealed how the President treated his servants. In the book, Amos wrote:
My wife one time asked the President about a bobwhite. She had never seen one and he described it to her fully. Sometime later, the telephone at our cottage rang. My wife answered it and it was Mr Roosevelt himself. He had called her, he said, to tell her that there was a bobwhite outside her window and that if she would look out she might see it. Little things like that were so characteristic of him. Whenever he went by our cottage, even though we were out of sight, we would hear him call out: “Oo-oo-oo, Annie?” or “Oo-oo-oo, James!” It was just a friendly greeting as he went by.
It was said that all his servants loved him, because the President treated everyone personally with respect, often able to remember and address them all individually by their names.
Whenever i am involved in a longer term project with a client, i get to know people across the entire organization, from security, receptionist, managers, senior managers and sometimes delivery men. One of my favorite people to talk to are the tea ladies. Once i get to know them, they sometimes reveal the most insightful details about the organization’s culture. How each manager gets along with another, or how the boss likes certain things to be done in a certain way. Somehow the “little people” in the organization paints a clear picture of the greatness of the organization and of the leaders. Do they describe the leaders in fear as aloof, driven, aggressive, or do they speak with respect of the leaders’ concern for people, ability to motivate, and perhaps integrity?
What are your tea ladies saying about your organization and its leadership today?